Friday, May 1, 2009

Negotiation Part 2

Thanks for the helpful comments and tips contributed by readers to last week's blog entry! We have all learned some tough lessons through past negotiation experience. The important thing is to use that experience to your advantage in future deals. Here are a few more suggestions that I have on the subject:

1. Limit your own authority. You may have had the frustrating experience of bargaining with a car salesman at a dealership, and being told "I'll have to get approval from my manager for that price". This is a common ploy that is used to keep their price high. You seem to be bargaining with someone who lacks the authority to make price concessions, so you (the buyer) wind up making all of the concessions yourself. Of course, when you're buying a car, you should never tolerate this tactic. You should insist on negotiating directly with someone who has authority to agree on a price. But when you are selling your band's services to a club owner, the same kind of strategy can work to your advantage. If the client offers a fee below your asking price, you can tell him that you will need to consult with the other band members before agreeing to such a low fee, and chances increase that the busy club owner will make a concession on the spot just to get the deal closed promptly.

2. Play up your popularity. The music business is a lot like the fashion business. Everybody wants in on the latest fad, and nobody is interested in last year's products. We would all like to think that the service we offer is all about musical quality, but to a large extent, it is often about popularity, so the busiest bands often attract the best offers. If you seem to be really busy and in demand, clients will find you more appealing and also will feel like they have to compete (i.e. offer more money) to win your services. You should definitely let them know about all the great gigs you are currently involved in, but of course you must not lie. If you promise the manager that you can pack his club on a Monday night, you better be able to deliver.

3. Consider the whole package. A steady gig in hand is worth two in the bush, so consider making some price concessions in exchange for stable employment. Also, be willing to barter and cooperate to reach a deal. For example, if the venue is running on a really tight budget, you could agree to play for $10 less per band member in exchange for free meals. Some venues provide a house PA system for your use, which will save you a lot of setup time and trouble. That kind of thing may be worth making some bargaining concessions. On the other hand, if you have to schlep your own PA, lighting rig and instruments 100 miles to the club, then you should explicitly list those expenses to the club owner as justification for asking a higher price.

Every gig is different, so it is important to think all of these things through and be ready to adjust your fees to fit each circumstance. Also, if you find yourself getting so busy with work that you become stressed, then that is often a sign that it's time to raise your rates. A problem we would all love to have! :-)

2 comments: said...

Hi Doug,

You may be interested in a book called The 48 Laws Of Power.

In brief...

Kindest regards,

Alexa Weber Morales said...

This is helpful, Doug. By the way, I checked out the 48 laws of power the other commenter posted. Seems like a ugly, paranoid, power-obsessed and ultimately empty way to live. Your recommendations are far more honest and useful.